TYRONE playmaker Kyle Coney admits that even a friendly match would be better than nothing as he ponders whether there’ll be any more football this year.
It’s understood that the GAA is determined that 2020 won’t be a total write-off and that a period of club activity is now the preferred option to recommence playing activity.
That’s obviously contingent on how things pan out in the weeks and months ahead, and earlier this week the association said that it’s highly improbable that the All-Ireland Championships will start before the beginning of July.
It’s hard to believe that Coney will turn 30 in the summer – it seems like only yesterday that he was running riot as the star turn in Tyrone’s All-Ireland Minor Championship triumph back in 2008 – so he’s keeping his fingers crossed that there’s brighter days ahead.
“I would take anything at the moment, I’d even take a friendly game. I’d be in favour of an open draw as well if there is to be a championship.
“To be honest I’m really not sure what will happen – if this runs on there’ll be no time for provincial championships.
“If it came to that I’d be happy to see a bit of club football later in the year, even a straight championship with Ardboe.
“I’ll be 30 in July, you don’t have many years at that level so I don’t want to miss out,” he added.
It’s now just over a month since the GAA decreed a blanket ban on all group training and matches, and it did take a while for Coney to
adjust to the change in routine, particularly as he is out of work as a consequence of the current upheaval.
“You don’t think it’s going to affect you that much but when you’re away from that team environment for longer than a week, you start to ask yourself ‘what am I doing with my time here’? “In the past, even if Tyrone’s season came to an end, you’re still tipping away with club training and going to the gym and going down to the pitch with a bag of footballs.
“You’re always doing something but this here has thrown everything up in the air.
“We’d meet up with Tyrone a few times a week between the gym and collective pitch sessions and you’d miss all that, the buzz and the craic, and the intensity of the training.
“It’s definitely harder to get to that intensity on your own.”
Coney, who returned to the Tyrone senior ranks last year after almost a five-year absence, says it hit home for him that life had truly changed when his local club-grounds were locked.
“I actually went down to the club pitch the evening the GAA called an end to all group activity and put myself through a session that had been previously made for us by Tyrone’ s Strength and Conditioning Coach Jonny Davis.
“I was the last one out the gate at about 7.30pm and the treasurer of the club was actually there, he does a bit of work around the club, and he put a padlock on the gate.
“It just struck me that ‘Jesus, this is something we’ve never seen before’ and ‘when will it come off again?”
FULL STORY IN THIS WEEK’S STRABANE CHRONICLE